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About

History

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Citizens Alliance Bank, formerly known as Citizens State Bank of Clara City (CSBCC) until October of 2010, was originally chartered as the German American Bank on November 15, 1902.

The Bank operated as a Company Bank under the name of German American Bank until the year 1909 when it was incorporated and given a Minnesota state charter under the name of German American State Bank. The Bank continued to operate under this name until 1918 when, due to adverse sentiment toward the German people as a result of World War I; the name was changed to Citizens State Bank of Clara City.

On October 2, 2010, CSBCC changed its name and logo to Citizens Alliance Bank to better reflect the institution’s continued growth and expansion into new communities.

The Bank has experienced numerous challenging economic events along with substantial regulatory and competitive changes. Most notably, the Bank survived the Great Depression of 1929 and the Great Recession of 2008, which saw numerous community bank failures. Despite these two formidable trials, Citizens Alliance Bank remained open without interruption of service to its customers.

In 1955, at age 26, C.R. (Kelly) Forstrom, originally from Willmar, Minnesota moved to Clara City with his wife Norma. Norma taught school (Kindergarten through 9th Grade) in a one room school house in Kandiyohi County. Kelly and Norma saved Norma’s teaching pay of $1,500 per year and lived off of Kelly’s income. Norma’s teaching income is what they used for the $5,000 down payment to purchase a minority interest in the Bank. This purchase is what brought them to Clara City. Over the years, Kelly eventually acquired all of the shares of the Bank as well as Citizens State Insurance Agency.

In 1982, Forstrom Bancorporation, Inc. (FBC) was formed as a parent or holding company to be used as a conduit for future Bank acquisitions. At that time, all the stock of Citizens Alliance Bank was transferred from C.R. Forstrom to FBC. Controlling interest in FBC was sold to Kelly and Norma’s four sons (Philip, Paul {b.10/08/1959-d.01/26/2001}, Perry and John) on December 31, 1990. This was the same day that Kelly retired as active President of Citizens Alliance Bank and its various affiliates.

A significant event in the history of the Bank would include the merger of Americana State Bank’s (Clara City) assets and liabilities into Citizens Alliance Bank in October 1986. Over the years, the location of Citizens Alliance Bank has changed a number of times within Clara City.  After an extensive renovation, Citizens Alliance Bank’s Banking Operations were moved to the former Americana State Bank facility at 126 North Main Street. Citizens Alliance Bank remained at that location until June 2004 when all of the Bank’s Operations and Insurance Agency were moved into a new two story 18,000 square foot building located at 55 1st Street NW in Clara City. Upon completion of the new facility in 2004, the former Americana State Bank facility was donated to the City of Clara City and is now the public library.

Citizens Alliance Bank acquired and merged nearby Security State Bank of Maynard, Minnesota in 1991 and a branch of U.S. Bank in Granite Falls, Minnesota in 1995. Citizens Alliance Bank then acquired and merged First State Bank of Lake Lillian, Minnesota in 2005. In May 2006, FBC purchased the parent company of Yellow Medicine County Bank in Granite Falls and Echo. As a result of this purchase, the Yellow Medicine County Bank and its branch office in neighboring Echo, Minnesota were merged into Citizens Alliance Bank.

On October 14, 2011, Citizens Alliance Bank merged with its affiliate bank, Security State Bank of Howard Lake, Minnesota (SSBHL) and thereby acquired its branch office in Watertown, Minnesota. SSBHL was originally chartered on September 15, 1915 and until the merger with Citizens Alliance Bank, it operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of FBC. On May 17, 2013 Citizens Alliance Bank merged with its affiliate bank, First State Bank of Murdock, Minnesota. On April 25, 2014 Citizens Alliance Bank merged with its affiliate bank, First Valley Bank of Seeley Lake, Montana.

In March of 2016, Citizens Alliance Bank completed construction of a 10,000 square foot facility in Clara City to house the Bank’s Human Resources, Information Technology and other support functions. The North Annex as it is known also leases space to Chippewa County Montevideo Hospital, a satellite medical clinic thereby restoring family practice medical services to the community.

Effective with the close of business on Friday, April 22, 2016 the wholly-owned affiliate First Bank of Lincoln in Lincoln, Montana was merged into Citizens Alliance Bank. On Monday, August 7, 2017 the first Loan Production Office of the organization opened in Great Falls, Montana which subsequently was converted into a full-service branch effective Monday, July 16, 2018.

Construction of a new facility of approximately 18,000 square feet on the West Bank development of Great Falls will commence fall of 2019. A mixed use, three-story facility is currently under design with the Bank occupying the first and the second levels and the third level available for prospective tenants.

In addition, beginning fall of 2019, the Lincoln office will be expanded by approximately 2,250 square feet to accommodate more offices, storage space and a larger employee break-room.

In April of 2019 demolition began on the former NAPA and Main Street Fitness buildings in Clara City to make way for the East Annex building; a two story, 13,000 square foot facility will house Bank Administration and Operational Support Personnel.  Construction is estimated for completion in March of 2020.

On May 13, 2019 Citizens Alliance Bank entered into a purchase and merger agreement with Poe Investment Company to acquire 100% of its subsidiary, Farmers & Merchants State Bank of Sacred Heart, Sacred Heart, Minnesota. The merger was completed with the $25 million asset bank as of the close of business on August 16, 2019.

Over the past 117 years, Citizens Alliance Bank has grown substantially. This can be evidenced by its asset growth that started at $10,000 in 1902 and now exceeds $830 million.

Forstrom Bancorporation Inc., and its wholly-owned subsidiary of Citizens Alliance Bank, currently employ approximately 175 people and has consolidated assets of $845 million.